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Khizr Khan to speak at Virginia Festival of the Book

Several organizations sponsoring Khan’s visit to talk about his book, ‘An American Family’

<p>Khan said that the one thing he hopes will be reinstituted amongst our nation is this civility of discourse.&nbsp;</p>

Khan said that the one thing he hopes will be reinstituted amongst our nation is this civility of discourse. 

Khizr Khan will deliver a talk March 22 as a part of the Virginia Festival of the Book — an event organized by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities aimed to bring writers and readers together. Khan will discuss his book “An American Family,” as well as his experiences as an immigrant, democracy and the rights of Americans.

His event, titled “Hope & Sacrifice: A Conversation with Khizr Khan,” will be ticketed and held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center March 22, from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Douglas A. Blackmon, director of public programs at the Miller Center, will lead the conversation.

Humayun Khan, the son of Khan and his wife Ghazala, was a University graduate and United States Army Captain, who was killed in Baqubah by a car bomb during the Iraq War. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star medal for his service.

Capt. Khan was commemorated last May with a plaque on the Rotunda wall. The plaque is a gift from the Seven Society, which has previously dedicated plaques to fallen alumni of the University. 

In 2016, the Khans spoke at the Democratic National Convention, openly criticizing President Donald Trump’s response to immigration. After gaining recognition in their DNC speech, Khizr and Ghazala Khan became heavily involved with the University’s ROTC program.

The Khans moved to Charlottesville following their son’s death. In June 2017, they established the Captain Humayun Khan Memorial Scholarship, which annually awards $10,000 to a student in need, with a preference to students in the ROTC program or who are majoring in a field that studies the U.S. Constitution. 

Khan’s talk is co-sponsored by several organizations — International Neighbors, Rumi Forum for Interfaith Dialogue and Intercultural Understanding, International Rescue Team and the Blue Ridge Chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America. 

International Neighbors is a volunteer organization based in Charlottesville that provides assistance to refugees and special immigrant visa holders, who worked alongside U.S. military in Iraq or Afghanistan. 

Kari Miller, founder and executive director of International Neighbors, said she thinks the event will be well attended.

“I think [Khan’s] message is what it always appears to be — to stay true to the foundational values of America,” Miller said. “He’s a beacon of light, and it’s really nice that he’s continuing to be illuminated … Mr. Khan is such an inspirational human being, aside from being a great author.” 

The International Rescue Committee responds to the “world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster,” according to its website,  

Kiri Van Lengen-Welty, volunteer coordinator of the International Rescue Committee, commented on Khan’s role in the Charlottesville community and the impact of his story on other residents. 

“I think he is a great community member of Charlottesville and has an incredible story and a wealth of experience to share,” Van Lengen-Welty said. “I think it’s great that the community will get to hear from him.” 

After the March 22 event, Khan will sign copies of his book, “An American Family,” which was published last year.